Broadcasting pioneer blazes trail for aspiring female journalists
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Betsy Ross is a pioneer in the broadcasting industry and one of our own at FOX19 NOW. She is also the subject of this Breaking Through segment.
Over the years, Ross has knocked down doors and led the way for other women aspiring to be journalists.
“I was one of these lucky kids that I knew in 6th grade what I wanted to do,” Ross explained. “I wanted to do something in journalism. I didn’t know what. Really the only outlet back then was print journalism.”
So that’s where she started - writing for the South Bend Tribune newspaper while she finished grad school.
Then got her first television job at WSJV in South Bend after graduating.
“It was, it was really frightening,” Ross said. “I remember when I started out and I started out as a reporter and a writer. And then it was one of these days that you know, the general manager walked in and said, ‘Betsy, do the 825 cut in,’ with no warning at all, which was probably good. So, I didn’t have like a whole day to stew about it or worry about it. But you know, why don’t you do the 825 cut and I go, ‘okay,’ and so, you know, you kind of jump in on the deep end.”
From there, she was unstoppable - covering all types of stories but she couldn’t ignore her love of sports.
“Growing up, there weren’t that many opportunities for women to be involved in sports,” explained Ross. “Phyllis George was the first person that I saw that put two and two together and for me, I said, ‘oh well she’s taking journalism and using it in sports so maybe there’s an opportunity for me to do it as well.’”
She made it happen becoming one of the first female anchors at ESPN.
After five years with the network, a tragic day not only changed the world, but it changed her. That day was Sept. 11, 2001.
“We were on the air when the towers fell,” Ross recalls. “‘An apparent terrorist attack on the United States,’ and I remember those words coming out of my mouth, and you sit there and go I never in my life thought I would say anything like that.”
Ross said that day made her rethink what she was doing.
So, she decided to leave ESPN and return to Cincinnati to help take care of her mother and be with family, but also found a new purpose.
She opened her own PR firm, Game Day Communications, with her business partner Jackie Rowe.
Merging her love of sports and journalism.
“A lot of people were doing PR and a lot of people were in sports but nobody at that time in this town were putting them together,” Ross said. “So, we kind of saw that as a niche that we could do something like that that no one else was doing.”
Her gamble paid off.
The award-winning Game Day Communications PR firm is now celebrating its 20th year.
All of her accomplishments came full circle this year after she received the Silver Circle Emmy honoring her contributions to the television industry for more than two decades.
She says that even though she’s hit some bumps and roadblocks along the way, she never stopped.
“The easiest thing I can say is don’t give up,” Ross says. “And it’s almost a throwaway line but I truly - truly mean it. Don’t give up on what you want to do. I can see that you look and see can’t see the path. But the path is there even if you have to make it yourself.”
This story is part of a weekly segment called Breaking Through.
FOX19 NOW will be highlighting those who are stepping forward to pave the way for a better future.
If you know a woman making a difference in the community, whether it’s a business, teaching, or volunteering, we want to hear from you.
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